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Updated Aug 21, 2014 - 8:12 pm

McCain calls on Obama to intensify airstrikes against ISIS

PHOENIX -- Arizona Sen. John McCain is calling on President Barack Obama to do more to defeat ISIS.

After speaking to Arizona mayors at a luncheon in downtown Phoenix Thursday, McCain said more airstrikes are needed, and that the president needs to get tough with the terrorist group.

"We have to work to defeat them, not just stop them," McCain said. "The president used the word 'containment' yesterday. This isn't containment that's needed. It's defeat of this horrible organization that is a threat to U.S. national security."

McCain pointed to the recent beheading of American journalist James Foley as an example of the militant group's barbarism. Foley was killed after the U.S. refused to submit to the militant group's $132 million ransom request, a decision McCain, a former prisoner of war, actually supported.

"You can't do that, then it's open season on American citizens everywhere in the world," he explained to News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos Thursday. "It's tragic that maybe we can't ransom some of these people, but it's just not something that is possible to do."

McCain said the airstrikes that Obama ordered are a start.

"He's doing some of them, but he's got to into Syria," he explained. "ISIS has spread on to both sides of the border. He's got to intensify that air campaign."

Regardless of the recent airstrikes, he accused Obama of "not leading" and having "no strategy or plan."

McCain thought there would soon be an increase of American troops on the ground as advisers in Iraq, and hopes it won't be too late.

"He somehow does not want to acknowledge that he was wrong when we didn't leave a residual force behind in Iraq, which we could have, which he now denies that we could have," he said. "We're in terrible shape, to be honest with you."

The senator also claimed that ISIS has made him a target.

"ISIS has singled me out as Enemy Number One and the cardinal crusader," he said. "That was in their first online publication."

He said he was "honored" for the "compliment."

KTAR's Lauren Berkley contributed to this report.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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